Even without the text of Hale’s letters, her responses are not entirely mute, nor her character. In addition to appreciating her sympathy and understanding, Eliot praises her intelligence, insight, tact, and depth of emotion. On March 2, 1931, he observes that something, perhaps her experience as an actress, has liberated her from the limited perspective of her Boston brahmin class (on April 14, he attributes some of her frustrations to living in a confined environment). He wishes that she would confide more in him and allow him to comfort her as she does him; she seems to maintain more reserve. On April 20, Eliot continues the discussion about same-sex relationships (see my last post), reassuring Hale that she had no reason to be ashamed of the feelings or experiences she must have narrated in two of her previous letters. All of this elliptically suggests a person of substance with her own emotional resources.
Although it is subtle, Hale seems to resist him. For example, Hale performed the role of Judith (the female lead) in Noel Coward’s Hay Fever in April and May 1931. On April 20, he disparages another play by Coward, The Queen Was in the Parlor. By May 8, he has read Hay Fever twice and found something to appreciate in its fast pace and clever use of charades. On May 19 he rails against the idea of her wearing a light colored wig and names other female roles from classic plays that would suit her better. But on May 26 he congratulates her on the success of her production and on May 29 expresses interest in what she tells him about her experience as Judith. He wants the two of them to read a book together but she doesn’t seem to take him up on the suggestion. He importunes her for a photograph in almost every letter. He is unsatisfied by the resemblance in the picture she sends him in April, and it takes her several more months to produce another. Towards the end of May Eliot excuses the brevity of her letters as a sign of exhaustion from the strains of her dramatic production, and he laments that she will soon leave Boston for Seattle, where they will be separated by a continent, in addition to an ocean.